I went to the show on Saturday ONLY. Even though I live outside of Chicago, it is still about a 70 minute drive to Rosemont for me, barring no traffic (and that isn't bloody likely). Taking a week off of work to attend every waking moment of the show, while extremely tempting, is not feasible either. One day is about my limit so I have to make the most of it. Saturday morning, I scooped up the kiddos, loaded the truck with my battle pack, and we headed out (late of course but that's besides the point). After our customary card show day breakfast and a brief stop at the Speedway for my giant cup of Dew and a fill-up for the pick-up, we were on our way.
|My kids and their excitement as we make our way into the National.|
I planned on Tweeting pictures and status updates throughout the day but by noon, my phone was out of juice and the couple dozen tweets I had already sent through my Twitter App had apparently went AWOL. I think only one or two actually posted to my account. The rest apparently ate up my battery life trying to send to the the Twittersphere. Since that plan was foiled early on, you can see why this is a very text heavy, non-image laden post.
I'm going to veer from the path or righteousness for a minute here and give my honest opinion of what I experienced. Most reviews and discussions regarding this years show have been nothing but good will and praise for the dealer success, daily turnout, interactive events, and general organization (with a few exceptions). While I'm not a dealer and I didn't attempt to stand in endless line-after-line of autograph guests, I still didn't get the impression that it was a record attendance like the promoters keep touting. In fact, I didn't feel the excitement and energy like I usually do when I go to the NSCC (or any other show at the CC since there are two big ones each year put on by the Chicago Sun Times).
The promotions were there in force. Upper Deck had their pack giveaways if you opened their product at their booth. In fact, by the time we got up there with our packs in tow, they weren't really even checking. I had a box of Fleer Retro Hockey that I opened, gave packs to both my kids and we all got to choose from the grab bag-o-packs. Panini did much of the same only they "pre-opened" your boxes for you with small operationally precise incisions into your packs. I picked up a 2013-14 Score Jumbo and a 2012-13 Rookie Anthology. Leaf was there too, although I didn't partake in any of their freebies or promotions. So was Topps but again, since they got out of the hockey business, I kind of ignore them. All of the manufacturers had daily events, promotions, and excitement building craziness planned. But with the exception of Blowout Cards 3PM Ping Pong Ball Raffle complete with carnival barker at the helm of a bullhorn, I hate to say it but I was kind of bored.
Keep in mind that I went on a Saturday, generally the biggest day of the 5-day event, arriving about an hour after the general admission doors opened, stayed till almost 5PM, and not once was I ever pushed, stepped on, hurried along, or generally run over. In other words, I felt like there was no one there. Now maybe everyone was doing what I didn't do, and that's hound for autographs at an average price somewhere north of $85/guest. That would explain the lack of bodies on the convention floor. Or maybe everyone was hanging out in the Olympic Pavillion searching for their precious pins or taking their stuff for a shot at reality show stardom on the overly hyped and somewhat contrived TV show "A Piece Of The Game". I don't know but I didn't feel like this was a record attendance by any means. Two years ago in Chicago the place was on fire by 10AM on Saturday. It was wall-to-wall people and you could almost barely move down any of the center lanes where the vendors were without being knocked around a few times. That lasted from door open to door closed that day. Not so much in 2013.
But maybe this was a good thing. Believe it or not, myself and my two sons were able to traverse the entire show floor, see most of what was there, participate in a few promotions, stand in one autograph line, and even had time to sit for a spell and bust some boxes with my friend Sal from PuckJunk.com. Now I didn't park myself at any quarter or dime boxes because with the kids, that is generally not a good idea. So that saved time. And with the exception of Mr. Murray Bannerman, I skipped the auto pavilion altogether and didn't even go into the Olympic area. So with that said, we were able to see all we could see in a limited amount of time.
Overall, we had a great time. I always enjoy time with my kids and they thoroughly enjoy going to these shows with me and seeing all the interesting sports memorabilia, autograph stars, and millions of different sports collectibles. Plus, it gives them a chance to experience some fundamental elements of this great hobby of ours like the show environment itself, trading with other collectors, the art of negotiation, and the thrill of the chase. I was able to pick up a few singles for various PC collections I have, some autographs, and a few boxes of new product which I will show on here soon.
The kids? Well they got some memories that I don't think they will forget anytime soon.
- They got to keep almost all the promotional pack cards from both Upper Deck and Panini. Why anyone needs (9) 5-card sets from that day is beyond me.
- They snagged a bag full of various freebies from dealer tables like the guys from Pro-Mold, COMC, Cardboard Connection Radio, and the Benchwarmer girls (at least I think that's who they were).
- A guy from Topps came up to them and gave them a couple mini-MLB vinyl figures from their booth (which turned out to be Evan Longoria and Dustin Pedroia).
- Some random dealer gave them both a handful of penny sleeves and top loaders to go with an entire opened factory set of 1989 Upper Deck Baseball. Bet you can't guess which card was missing??? I felt guilty for their generosity (or cruel joke) so I bought a few cards from their discounted auto box.
- They both got to create their own cards at Upper Deck which has spawned a new activity to do with those cardboard decoy cards at our dining room table.
- My oldest son pulled not one but two autographs from the wrapper redemption programs. He received an autograph of Chicago Blackhawks young gun, Brandon Saad from the Upper Deck booth and a 8x10 jumbo card autograph of St. Louis Rams wide receiver Brian Quick.
- Each of them got to get one blaster box from the D&A Cardworld discount table. Both of them pulled an autograph and jersey card out of each blaster...yes, I said both of them...out of blaster boxes...that were discounted...how old before they can play the lottery??? (they were 2012 Bowman Baseball and 2011-12 Upper Deck Series I hockey in case you wondered)
- They each got an 8x10 autograph of former Chicago Blackhawk goalie Murray Bannerman. Mr. Bannerman actually talked to both the boys about baseball, hockey, and why my oldest should be a hockey player since he didn't have any front teeth (I got him to sign a puck).
Like I said, when I get all the pictures together, I will be sure to post them all. Here are a couple that didn't get obliterated by my phone...
An awesome Jackie Robinson memorabilia display. It was very eye catching so I took a pic.
The aftermath of destroying a jumbo box of 2013-14 Score Hockey and a box of 2012-13 Rookie Anthology.
What I pulled from my Panini wrapper redemption packs. I suppose it could have been worse.